DEMONSTRATORS gathered at Warwickshire County Council’s (WCC) headquarters in Warwick yesterday (Tuesday July 18) to protest the Council’s plans to scrap children’s centres across the county.
The Council wants to axe 27 of the county’s 39 children’s centres, which offer help and advice to parents and prospective parents, while converting the remaining 12 into ‘hubs’.
The centres are facing cuts of £1.1million to help make up for a £67million cut in WCC’s government funding.
Members of campaign group Save Warwickshire Children’s Centres assembled on the steps of Shire Hall to voice their opposition.
A campaign spokeswoman said: “There are thousands of families in the region who rely on these Children’s Centres and they already do not have the facilities to support everyone.
“Cutting these services will have a huge impact on our children’s start in life.
“There are also proposed cuts to staff who currently support priority families. This will almost certainly lead to increasing numbers of children being taken into care, which will have major financial implications.”
Campaign member Jim Ellis from Rugby said the protest was about safeguarding and continuing the service in a safe and functioning environment.
He said: “We hope we afforded a public perspective. We are a thoughtful group, and one that fears that these cuts are potentially dangerous if the implementation is botched.
“This is not really a county issue but an issue of national Government funding county services.
“We would ask the Council to review the decision and, instead of cuts, ask for the appropriate budget from Government which will cost less than fixing problems in the future.”
In Rugby, Claremont and Oakfield children’s centres would be converted into hubs, while centres in Cawston, Dunchurch, Hillmorton, Newbold and Wolston could be closed.
In Warwick district, centres in Kenilworth, Kingsway, Newburgh, St Johns and Whitnash face the axe, while Lillington, Sydenham and Westgate children’s centres would become hubs.
And in Stratford district, Alcester children’s centre would be converted into a hub, leaving centres in Badger Valley, Clopton, Lighthorne Heath, Southam, Stratford, Studley and Wellesbourne at risk.
The hubs will provide children and families with a range of services, while remaining centres will be ‘subject to reassessment, including alternative options and potential closure’.
WCC says it will explore opportunities with the community and local providers to continue to offer services at the remaining centres.
Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/ask to complete a questionnaire, for further information, or to find out more about public meetings which will begin across the county on July 20.
Email [email protected] or call 01926 742350 to request consultation information in alternative formats.
Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/childrenscentres for more information about current arrangements for children’s centres.